Janet Simpson is sitting in her wheelchair in the bedroom. She smiles when we walk in and introduce ourselves. There’s a balance to her as solid as the wheelchair itself, an enveloping kind of patience, something that has come to terms with the loss of a leg, a stroke and a slew of other complications. She adjusts the fall of her pleated skirt.
‘How can we help?’ I ask her.
‘Well, I don’t really know if you can. It’s all a bit…’ She tails off, and gently shakes her head.
Mr Simpson is standing in the doorway.
‘I’m sorry to call you out,’ he says, ‘but we were all a bit worried with these things Janet’s been seeing.’
‘I’m not worried,’ she says.
‘Kittens,’ says Mr Simpson.
‘Wee little kittens. So big,’ she says, holding her hands about a hamster’s width apart. ‘They sit over there, amongst the TV cables, playing, messing about, you know.’
‘Can you see them now?’
‘But it’s not all the time. And then sometimes I see these worm-like creatures. They writhe about, up the walls, across the ceiling. I don’t like those so much. And then sometimes it’s swarms of creatures, creatures I’ve never seen before, flying in through the window.’ She shrugs again. ‘I prefer the kittens.’
‘We thought it might be something to do with her stroke,’ says Mr Simpson. ‘She’s quite calm about it all, though. She just seems a bit put out we can’t see them, too.’
‘Wouldn’t you be?,’ she says, then smiles up at us. ‘What are you going to do with me? The Loony Bin, I suppose.’